116 user 66 critic

The Ninth Configuration (1980)

A former marine arrives at a mental asylum housed in a remote castle to run it. There he attempts to rehabilitate the patients by letting them act out their craziest fantasies and desires.


William Peter Blatty (novel), William Peter Blatty (screenplay)
3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Stacy Keach ... Col. Vincent Kane
Scott Wilson ... Capt. Billy Cutshaw
Jason Miller ... Lt. Frankie Reno
Ed Flanders ... Col. Richard Fell
Neville Brand ... Maj. Marvin Groper
George DiCenzo ... Capt. Fairbanks
Moses Gunn ... Maj. Nammack
Robert Loggia ... Lt. Bennish
Joe Spinell ... Lt. Spinell
Alejandro Rey ... Lt. Gomez
Tom Atkins ... Sgt. Krebs
Steve Sandor ... 1st Cyclist (Stanley)
Richard Lynch ... 2nd Cyclist (Richard)
Gordon Mark Gordon Mark ... Sgt. Gilman
William Lucking ... Highway Patrolman


Sent to a converted castle in the Pacific Northwest used by the U.S. government as a psychiatric institution for military personnel who fought in the Vietnam War, the unorthodox psychiatrist, Colonel Kane, has a lot on his plate already, trying to figure out whether the inmates feign insanity or not. Still struggling with his inner demons, Kane is particularly intrigued by the psychotic former astronaut, Captain Cutshaw, whose metaphysical enquiries trigger a feverish recurring nightmare. More and more, as Kane and Cutshaw engage in intense theological debates over the existence of God and evil, the troubled scientist finds himself at a dead-end, in need of a brilliant but reckless plan to determine the root of the soldiers' complex mental breakdowns. Can Colonel Kane provide proof of an afterlife? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It will take you to the edge of your mind! See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Stacy Keach and Scott Wilson were last-minute replacements for Nicol Williamson and Michael Moriarty, who were originally slated to play the roles of Colonel Kane and Captain Cutshaw. See more »


Captain Cutshaw: I don't belong to the God Is Alive And Hiding In Argentina club, but I believe in the devil, all right. You know why? Because the prick keeps doing commercials!
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Crazy Credits

At the very end of the remastered print of this film, an "In Loving Memory" dedication to William Peter Blatty's son, Peter Vincent Blatty (May 17, 1987 - November 7, 2006) appears, with the 1971 high tone Lorimar theme playing over it. See more »

Alternate Versions

First version seen in US during general release was distributed by Warner Brothers and ran 112 minutes. It contained following differences from the 118 min. director's cut seen on the 2002 DVD:
  • Soundtrack in Stereo
  • Opens with Warner Brothers logo
  • Credits sequence immediately follows logo and does not feature brief "computer print-out" sound fx
  • Ed Flanders' opening narration over master shot of castle immediately follows scene of Cutshaw awakening from nightmare and looking out at the sunrise, and then cuts to the wacky assembly of the men in the courtyard, which plays straight through.
  • Joke about Cutshaw's squeeze-bulb-horn cane being a "foghorn" is absent
  • No suspenseful music during Kane's introduction to the group and initial entry into the castle
  • Sound effect of chips crunching in Cutshaw's pocket absent from sound mix after the first indication
  • Cutshaw's "Show me a Catholic..." line is delivered in alternate, medium angle take
  • Fell's dialog about the men having high IQs and Kane's dissertation on evil and suffering is absent. After Fell discusses Reno it cuts directly to his joking suggestion of shock treatment
  • Reno and Spinnell's interchange regarding types of dogs for Shakespearean roles has music playing in background, is preceded by an exterior of the castle at night, and runs longer to show Cutshaw enter and add "Reno, in need you", to which Reno replies, "You need me? Hell, I need me!"
  • Reno's line to Cutshaw in the tree, regarding "ski tracks on the table" is absent
  • Lunar crucifixion dream is shown with rain falling throughout, and runs slightly longer
  • When Kane looks over at the chair, the muted calls of "Vincent!" and "Oh God, I love..." are absent from the soundtrack
  • Groper's complaints to Kane about the men are heard off-screen as Fell is seen breaking down outside Kane's office, and the scene inside the office with Kane reading the love letter is absent
  • Fairbanks trying to get a soda from the Pepsi machine is seen without hearing Reno calling for Kane and insulting Fell, which is then seen directly afterward, on-screen, before the Hamlet dissertation
  • During Reno's Hamlet dissertation, Reno insulting Fell ("coextensive with Nero's ass") is absent
  • Fairbanks complimenting the atoms in water is absent
  • The Frankenstein-masked Cutshaw has an extra line to Groper on the soundtrack after he "claims this swamp for Poland"
  • Scene of Reno trying to teach sheep Shakespeare is absent
  • As the Chain Gang parties at the bar, there is a shot of topless biker women with painted nipples dancing, in lieu of the shot of the nameless victim (seen bound and gagged in the back of a pick-up truck at the film's beginning) nodding his head
  • The exterior shot of Kane arriving at the bar runs slightly longer
  • After the bar fight, an interior scene of Kane and Cutshaw returning to the castle precedes the shot of the police car racing up to the castle. In the scene, Cutshaw lets Kane, who is wearing Cutshaw's letterman jacket like a cape, inside the main hall and they both slowly ascend the stairs to Kane's quarters
  • When Cutshaw returns to the castle in the epilogue, the exterior scene cuts to the interior at the point where Cutshaw is just entering Kane's office. The scene with Cutshaw in the main hall is absent.
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References Dracula (1931) See more »


Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life
Music by Victor Herbert
Lyrics by Rida Johnson Young
Performed by Walter Scanlan
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User Reviews

William Peter Blatty's Twinkle, Twinkle Killer Kane!!
14 August 2005 | by Captain_CouthSee all my reviews

The Ninth Configuration (1980) was William Peter Blatty's directorial debut. He adapts his own novel for the big screen in this bizarre film about an astronaut (Scott Wilson) who's reached his breaking point and a military doctor (Stacy Keach) who's trying to reach out to him. The cast has a who's who of Hollywood cast-offs (William Peter Blatty has a cameo himself as one of the patients).

This is a strange film that'll cause you to think (if you don't enjoy these type of films then I suggest you look elsewhere). An interesting movie about things that aren't as they seem, soul searching and seeking redemption through honor and self sacrifice. I liked the way these people have to look into themselves and see who or what they really are. I wished that William Peter Blatty made more movies and Hollywood should have gave Stacy Keach more film roles like these. He was quite impressive.

I have to to highly recommend this movie. But if you're expecting some mainstream popcorn nonsense then look elsewhere.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

29 February 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Ninth Configuration See more »

Filming Locations:

Vienna, Austria See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Ninth Configuration See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (re-issue) | (combined extended) | (1982)

Sound Mix:

3 Channel Stereo (RCA Sound Recording) (5.0) (L-R)


Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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